In celebration of its 25th and last season of work, the Richard Alston Dance Company is embarking on an international farewell tour. The kind of endeavour you might normally associate with the break-up of a major band, or with Cher – who is perennially on her last tour, and I think has been saying farewell since at least the beginning of the last century, as is the whim of an eternal being. The scale feels only a bit different for Alston and his dancers. Final Edition: Oxford [1] is a culmination of many lives at work together, expanding the practices of modern, postmodern, and contemporary dance in the United Kingdom.

Because of his eponymous title the Etonian has a claim to canonical status and this tour could have become an overwrought monument to privilege and ego. Instead, what we witnessed in Oxford’s New Theatre on Wednesday night was a homage to a history of dance, branded, and shaped by Alston, advanced by collaborator Martin Lawrance, and most importantly, pulled off with immense style, presence, and love by a company of extraordinary dancers. (more…)

Richard Alston Dance Company’s Final Edition tour is part of their last season, the 25th no less, before the company sadly ceases to operate in April 2020.  Determined to go out with colours flying the Company has put together an exciting celebration of its unflagging creativity, with new works by Sir Richard Alston and Martin Lawrance, and also key works revived from the Company’s history, a richly diverse mix of dance and music.  Don’t miss their last visit to Oxford’s New Theatre because afterwards they really will be gone!

Final Edition includes: Red Run, set to Heiner Goebbel’s powerful music, evokes a terrain of shadows across which the dancers travel in nomadic clusters. Alston’s new Voices and Light Footsteps, is set to the sensuously expressive music of Monteverdi, genius of the Baroque.  Mazur, a duet to Chopin played live, offers an intense outpouring of longing for the composer’s beloved homeland.  Martin Lawrance’s new dance A Far Cry is set to Elgar’s impassioned Introduction & Allegro, and Isthmus (2006) to the intricate and delicate sounds of Japanese Jo Kondo.

‘The moment it ended I longed to see it again – immediately.’ ★★★★★ Culture Whisper

Performance:  Wednesday 22nd January, 7:30pm

Venue:  The New Theatre, 24-26 George St, Oxford OX1 2AG

Tickets:  From £19.90, book online here or in person at the Box Office

Find further information about Richard Alston Dance Company here

Award-winning dance company, Ballet Black, returns to Oxford Playhouse on Friday 1 November 2019 with a triple bill of bold and inventive choreography.

The exciting programme contrasts inventive story telling in a lively showcase of three modern ballets, commissioned especially for Ballet Black. Ingoma (song) by company dancer and choreographer Mthuthuzeli November, is a fusion of ballet, African dance and singing. This world premiere and Barbican co-commission portrays a milestone in South African history and imagines the struggles of black South African miners and their families in 1946 – when 60,000 of them took courageous strike action.

The second ballet is a revival of Martin Lawrance’s Pendulum, an intimate duo premiered in 2009, and the choreographer’s first work for the company. CLICK!, an original, up-beat piece by Scottish Ballet’s chorographer-in-residence Sophie Laplane, also a world premiere, completes the triple bill.

Performance:  Friday 1st November 8.00pm

Venue:  Oxford Playhouse, 11-12 Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2LW

Tickets: £10 to £25 | Discounts available  Book online here or call the Box Office on 01865 305305

Age guideline: 7+ (more…)

Richard Alston Dance Company opened their show at the New Theatre, Oxford with Martin Lawrance’s energetic and fast paced creation Detour, which was followed by six pieces by Alston himself. Lawrance leaves interpretation to the audience: according to the programme, he named his piece because he started with one idea, which changed as he worked, but he leaves it to the dance to reveal what those ideas were. Performed to a recorded marimba and percussion soundtrack, its zippy pirouettes and sharp split jetés interspersed with leaps into dramatic embraces displayed the company’s virtuosity, while suggesting an underlying theme of conflict.

Richard Alston’s own programme notes offer more clues to the thoughts, images, and circumstances that lie behind his dances. (more…)

Richard Alston has been making dance for 50 years and launched his Richard Alston Dance Company 25 years ago. Both these anniversaries deserve celebrating with a special programme full of trademark lyrical choreography, new lively dances and revivals of successful works. With the announcement of the company closing in 2020, this tour will also be the penultimate chance to see a live performance by what is undoubtedly one of the world’s best dance ensembles.

Associate Choreographer Martin Lawrance will premiere his new work Detour set to Michael Gordon’s pulsing Timber with costumes by Jeffry Rogador and lighting by Zeynep Kepekli setting off Lawrance’s customary fast paced style and complicated patterns through space.

This piece will accompany a celebratory revival of Proverb, one of Alston’s most telling choreographies, to the serene and cool vocal work of Steve Reich washing over intricately complex dancing. Created in 2006 as part of Reich’s seventieth birthday celebrations at London’s Barbican, this is the first time the piece has been revived.

Culminating the evening will be Richard Alston’s exciting new work Brahms Hungarian. The hugely popular Brahms pieces, music that Alston had planned on choreographing to for years, will be played live onstage by RADC’s outstanding pianist Jason Ridgway. Full of passionate drive and joyful gusto, the dancers are carried along by fast steps and an abandoned fervour. Costumes are by award-winning designer Fotini Dimou with lighting by Zeynep Kepekli, both regular collaborators of Alston.

Performance:  Thursday 7th February 7.30pm

Venue:  New Theatre, George St, Oxford OX1 2AG

Tickets:  £13 – £26.90 Book online here

Find out more about the company here

Cut and RunChoreographer: Martin Lawrance

The fierce cut and jib of this work was evident from the first moment: music and movement battled for dominance, both rhythmic and rigorous. The choreography had a disjointed quality; the many pauses – some fleeting and others broad – prevented a sense of fluid motion. However this suited the music, which had pounding yet uneven rhythms and was often a cacophony of sound. The dancers rarely moved together; instead they seemed to fight, to exist alone, and to defy and reject each other. The level of technical command was impressive: each movement (or sudden stillness) was precise and controlled, and the dancers negotiated dizzying transitions between standing, lying, rolling and turning. (more…)

Richard Alston Dance Company returned to Oxford this week for one evening at the New Theatre. The programme opened with Martin Lawrance’s Cut and Run, to music by Michael Gordon and Damian LeGassick for ten dancers dressed in ‘urban wear’ with metallic decoration that glinted in the dim light. Starting and stopping, dodging and colliding, they broke out of the purple patch of illumination that seemed at first to confine them, and spread across the darkened stage. An interval of silence, then the lights changed to orange, adding a fresh sense of urgency to their frantic race, until the work concluded, with the dancers once more bathed in a purple glow. (more…)